History: Location of the Farmers Loan and Trust Co., at #109 E. Whitner Street.
Built around 1896, 105 East Church Street is one of only two buildings that remain from the African-American business district on East Church Street, and is one of the oldest buildings in downtown Anderson. The building first appears in 1896, on the Sanborn map, but it was probably built a year or two earlier. On the map, the name “Sullivan Hardware” appears over the building, meaning that 105 East Church Street was an early location of the Sullivan Hardware Company, one of the oldest family firms in Anderson. The company also included the property located at 108 East Benson Street (which was known as 125 West Benson Street at the time) although the two buildings were not connected.
At the time Sullivan’s was located at 105 East Church Street, the company was being run by its founder, James Mattison Sullivan, the eldest son of Nimrod Sullivan, the founder of the Sullivan family in Anderson, South Carolina. Sullivan’s company had been formed several years prior in 1875, by Sullivan and O.S. Mattison and was called Sullivan & Mattison Company. Mattison sold his interests in 1882, to Sullivan’s brother, Hewlett Kelly Sullivan, and the company named changed to Sullivan & Sullivan. Nimrod Bellotte Sullivan, a third brother, bought shares in the company in 1885, and the name was changed to Sullivan Hardware Company. Nimrod would become the company president in 1900, a position he held till his death in 1914.
James Sullivan retired in 1877, and died in 1910. The Sullivan firm was located at 105 East Church Street until around 1906, when the building was listed as the “Anderson Hardware Company,” which would later relocate to East Whitner Street in 1908. The Anderson Hardware Company was another family firm originally led by brothers Dillard Clarence and Dexter Brown, a partnership which was dissolved in 1903. 105 East Church Street was an office building in 1911, and by 1918, it housed a pool hall and restaurant on the first floor, and a moving pictures theater on the second floor.
The building has changed very little externally, except for its length. When the building was shortened is not known, but it is currently half the length it was in 1918. The change in size may have taken place in 1968, when a fire damaged the stores located at 108 to 114 East Benson Street.
Despite the building’s age and historic appearance, it was not included in the Anderson Downtown Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places. It does, however, share a wall with a hidden piece of Anderson’s African-American history. Just a few feet to the left of the 105 East Church Street entrance is a side entrance to 219 South Main Street, Big John’s, a one-time popular restaurant. This seemingly insignificant door was the “colored” entrance during the days of segregation. Next to the door is the pick-up window which used by both races.
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